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  5. Observation Images Sent from Satellite Called “Tsubame” to be Released through Satellite Data Platform Called “Tellus”

Observation Images Sent from Satellite Called “Tsubame” to be Released through Satellite Data Platform Called “Tellus”

May 15, 2019

Joint Press Release with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will release observation images sent from a JAXA satellite called “Tsubame” through a satellite data platform called “Tellus.” Through this effort, METI will aim to encourage companies to create new businesses that take advantage of satellite data generated from high-frequency satellite observations.

From the viewpoint of encouraging companies to create new businesses that take advantage of satellite data, METI has been advancing the “Project for Disclosing Governmental Satellite Data Free of Charge, Developing Environments for Data Utilization and Promoting Data Utilization” for the development of a user-friendly satellite data platform called “Tellus.” Under this project, METI received technical advice and satellite data from JAXA that JAXA owns, such as data sent from “Daichi,” an advanced, land-observing satellite. Following this, on February 21, 2019, METI published such data through the prototype version of Tellus. This public release allows companies to make use of satellite data for commercial purposes free of charge.

Against this background, METI and JAXA agreed that on May 15, 2019, they will use Tellus to publish image data sent from a super-low-altitude test satellite called “Tsubame,” a super-low orbit satellite that JAXA has been developing and operating for a technical demonstration.

From April 2 to May 10, 2019, Tsubame observed central Tokyo in super low orbit (about 270km above the earth) at about 16:30 every day from a fixed point.* Since then, the satellite is reducing its altitude in stages and conducting image tests in preparation for shooting images around September 2019. METI and JAXA will publish the observation data of these tests through Tellus.

METI will acquire unique data from Tsubame and introduce it into Tellus as part of a series of data sets that the satellite data platform can provide. Thought this effort, it will strive not only to improve the value of the platform but also to encourage companies to create new businesses that take advantage of satellite data with an eye on high-frequency imaging by a satellite constellation system.

From the standpoint of encouraging companies to make use of satellite data by improving the user friendliness of such data, JAXA expects that integration, through Tellus, of fixed-point observation data sent from Tsubame, data that conventional earth observation satellites cannot acquire, and the types of innovative ideas prevalent in the private sector, will create new fields in which satellite data is utilized.

METI and JAXA will continue to cooperate in encouraging companies to make use of satellite data.

Examples of images targeting the site around the National Stadium in Tokyo taken by Tsubame at a fixed point

Note: The satellite passes right above the same spot every day. It enables observation of the same target from the same direction every day, an observation method called “fixed-point observation.” Normal earth observation satellites, which travel in a sub-recurrent orbit, are able to observe large portions of the earth, but require a certain period of time, often between 10 to 40 days, before passing right above the same spot again.

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